Neal Casal Foundation and tribute album announced

A tribute album featuring Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams and Beachwood Sparks among others was announced yesterday along with details of a new Neal Casal Music Foundation (NCMF) which has been created “to honour the memory of the late great, multi-dimensional artist through an ongoing series of charitable endeavors.” The initial focus of the foundation is to provide instruments and lessons to students in New Jersey and New York state schools where Casal was born and raised, as well as to make donations to mental health organizations that support musicians in need. NCMF is being spearheaded by Neal’s longtime manager Gary Waldman along with a team of Casal’s friends.

A first round of funding for the foundation is being raised through a Kickstarter campaign comprised of two primary packages: a 30-plus song tribute album, ‘Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal’ and a coffee table photography book, ‘Tomorrow’s Sky: Photographs by Neal Casal.’

“In a note left behind, Neal told the story of how he got his first guitar when he was 13,” explains Waldman. “As he explained it, ‘I remember the day on one of those drives where dad asked what I wanted for Christmas and I said an Atari, and he said ‘c’mon Neal, you can do better than that. I always see you with your radio playing music, do you want more records? Do you want to play an instrument? Anything but Atari y’know? It’s just going to collect dust after a few months, I want to get you something useful.’ I sheepishly said I like guitar, and his eyes lit up and he said, ‘sure i’ll get you a guitar, at least you’ll be learning something.’ So that was it, my life was set right there. I remember the exact place where we were when he said it. We were passing that reservoir that’s in between Oak Ridge, NJ and route 23 into NY state.’ So with that in mind, the concept for the foundation was born. We will also donate a large portion of proceeds to MusiCares, Backline and other mental health organizations for musicians. This was also a specific wish of Neal’s and we have already donated over $25,000 to MusiCares from our preliminary fundraiser at the Capitol Theatre tribute concert for Neal on September 25, 2019.”

‘Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal’ will be a double CD/triple vinyl album celebrating the prolific body of work Casal left behind over the course of 14 studio albums. Recording sessions for the project began in February led by co-producers Dave Schools of Widespread Panic and recording engineer/producer Jim Scott at PLYRZ Studios in Valencia, CA. Over 30 artists have been confirmed to appear, including Lucinda Williams, Jonathan Wilson, Phil Lesh and The Terrapin Family Band, Cass McCombs, Steve Earle, Warren Haynes, Jaime Wyatt, Shooter Jennings and Robert Randolph & The Family Band among numerous others. The first single and video from the recording was captured during those initial sessions in February. It features Billy Strings with Circles Around the Sun performing ‘All The Luck In The World’ which you can watch below.

“It’s been overwhelming to record these talented artists as they put their own spin on Neal’s songs,” says Schools. “It speaks volumes to the high quality of his songwriting and to the depth of love and appreciation that his peers had for him.”

One of Neal’s other last wishes left behind was that a book be made of the photographs he had taken while travelling the world over the last 20 years. ‘Tomorrow’s Sky: Photographs by Neal Casal’ is a 240-page, hard cover, coffee table book that presents over 250 of his photos. The book is broken up into six sections entitled Surf, Road, Rooms, Humans, Travel and Music—all subjects near and dear to Casal. Each section is described as “a deep reflection of where Neal was in his life, whether backstage with his band, in a recording studio with Willie Nelson, an empty stretch of highway through a tour bus windshield, or on the beach with a surfboard.” The photographs were carefully curated by Ricki Blakesberg using Neal’s Instagram, Tumblr and photo albums as a guide, while the book’s producer is Neal’s close friend and legendary photographer, Jay Blakesberg.

“‘Tomorrow’s Sky’ is a look at the world seen through the eyes of Neal Casal. Neal was a stealth photographer who always carried his camera and documented the people, places and scenes as they passed before him,” says Jay Blakesberg. “The photos are intimate, beautiful and from the hip. Nothing is set up, it is real life in real time.”

Highway Butterfly: The Songs Of Neal Casal
Confirmed Artists & Track Listing

Aaron Lee Tasjan – “Traveling After Dark”
Beachwood Sparks – “You Don’t See Me Crying”
Billy Strings w/ Circles Around the Sun – “All The Luck In The World”
Britton Buchanan – “Willow Jane”
Cass McCombs – “Miss It When It’s Gone”
Courtney Jaye – “Grand Island”
Dori Freeman & Teddy Thompson – “Sweeten The Distance”
Hannah Cohen & Sam Evian – “Junkyard In The Sun”
Hazeldine – “Today I’m Gonna Bleed”
Hiss Golden Messenger – TBD
Jaime Wyatt – “Need Shelter”
Jason Crosby – “Pray Me Home”
Jesse Aycock – “The Losing End Again”
Jimmy Herring w/ Circles Around the Sun – “Bird With No Name”
Johnathan Rice – “Me & Queen Sylvia”
Jonathan Wilson – TBD
Kenny Roby – “Too Much To Ask”
Lauren Barth – “Lost Satellite”
Leslie Mendelson – “Feel No Pain”
Lucinda Williams – TBD
Mapache – “The Wisest of the Wise”
Marcus King & Eric Krasno – “No One Above You”
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band – TBD
Robbi Robb – “I Will Weep No More”
Robert Randolph & The Family Band – TBD
Shooter Jennings – “Maybe California”
Steve Earle – “Highway Butterfly”
Todd Sheaffer – “December”
Vetiver – “White Fence, Round House”
Victoria Reed – “Angel & You’re Mine”
Warren Haynes – “Free To Go”
Zephaniah OHora – TBD

About Mark Whitfield 2006 Articles
Editor of Americana UK website, the UK's leading home for americana news and reviews since 2001 (when life was simpler, at least for the first 253 days)
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Pat Chappelle

What, no Todd Snider?